The Adult Stage (Years 1-7)
Your dog has officially become an adult when they have stopped growing. This usually occurs by age one, but for larger breeds, this can continue right through 18 months. Your dog is now in the prime of their life. Even though the intense care and training required during the puppy stage is over, there are still many things to focus on to keep your dog living their healthiest, happiest life possible. The more you know about adult dog nutrition, sleep, vaccines, dental care, exercise, behavior, and more, the better parent you will be throughout their adult life. And the healthier your dog will be in their senior and geriatric stages. At Harmony Animal Hospital, we look forward to being your partner during these wonderful adult years.
Vaccines and the Importance of the Annual Check-up
Annual check-ups and vaccines protect your adult dog against diseases. Your Harmony vet will discuss which vaccines are needed during the Adult Stage at your check-up. We will review Harmony’s vaccine philosophy, discussing which vaccines are essential, which are optional, and when particular vaccines should be administered.
Excellent dental care during your dog’s Adult Stage continues to be vital to their health. In addition to the dental routines you started in Puppy Stage, be sure to bring your adult dog in for their teeth cleanings on a regular schedule determined by your vet. Decisions about how often your dog needs cleanings will be based on your particular dog. If you suddenly notice a broken tooth, bad breath, or other oral concerns, set up an appointment right away. Harmony Animal Hospital’s extensive dental services are here to address any dental issues.
Dental care is one of the most important services we can provide your dog throughout their life to ensure their health for years to come. Your dog’s mouth is the gateway to their health. Your investment in preventative care will be much less expensive than treatments needed for neglected mouths. So staying on schedule is critical. At your dog’s annual visit, our vets will review everything from brushing your dog’s adult teeth, broken teeth, appropriate adult chewing toys, nutrition, your dog’s cleaning schedule, and more.
Check out our dental videos for more on the importance of excellent dental care.
Food intake varies by breed, size, and activity level. Typically, adult dogs receive two meals a day. But again, this may vary depending on your particular dog. With all the food choices out in the marketplace, getting expert advice from your vet for this adult stage is helpful to keep your dog on the healthiest possible path for optimal nutrients, energy, weight management, and longevity. Harmony Animal Hospital vets will work with you to ensure that your dog is getting all of their nutritional needs met while maintaining a healthy weight.
We have a variety of diets available to meet the individual needs of our patients. We can recommend a general diet for your healthy dog or provide a diet to help improve your dog’s medical condition. We proudly offer both Purina and Royal Canin prescription veterinary diets, and you can order from our site for convenient pickup or home delivery.
In addition to traditional nutritional counseling, Harmony Animal Hospital also offers Food Therapy. Using food as therapy can be very powerful. We can create a complete and balanced (and delicious!) diet recipe specific to your dog’s individual needs that you can cook at home (including calculations for caloric need–this includes any adjustments we may need to make in the future). Recommendations can also be made for foods you can add to your dog’s diet if you aren‘t quite ready to make a full transition. Treat recipes can also be individualized based on the needs of your adult dog.
At every stage of your dog’s life, exercise is important. But especially now, at the Adult stage, given that your dog has stopped growing. Proper exercise will not only help keep your adult dog’s muscles and bones strong, but it is also essential in helping them maintain an optimal weight. And exercise will keep your dog happy, playful, and social. However, you do not want to overdo their exercise, particularly with large and giant breeds whose skeletons are not fully mature until sometime in the two-year range. If you have questions about what the right level of exercise is for your dog, be sure to bring this topic up at your adult check-up or set up an appointment to discuss exercise and diet.
Regular walks, visits to dog parks, runs along the beach, and ball and stick throwing are all wonderful options for ensuring your dog moves daily to keep their bones and muscles strong.
If your schedule or an unexpected injury suddenly leaves you unable to get your dog out for the exercise they need, talk to our vet about your dog spending some time on Harmony’s treadmill here at Harmony Animal Hospital. Our staff would be more than happy to get your dog back on “track.”
Your adult dog will sleep less than during its puppy stage but still more than you! The average adult dog sleeps 12 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period, with some variations by breed.
Wellness and Preventive Care
From needed surgeries, bathing for cleanliness or skin conditions, radiography, laser therapy, acupuncture, weight management, microchipping, allergy treatments, and much more, Harmony Animal Hospital is here for all of your adult dog’s needs. Learn more about our extensive preventative and wellness services here.
Watching Out for Early Health Warning Signs
Even the best well-cared-for dogs get sick. The key to a successful recovery is to catch the problem as early as possible so it can be treated. To do that, always pay close attention to your dog’s routine and usual behavior. If you notice even subtle changes in eating, drinking, or usual behavior, it is always a good idea to call in for a consultation to seek advice on what to be on the lookout for and to have the change documented in your dog’s medical record for future reference, and to ensure that if the change is concerning, we can make appropriate recommendations.
More serious signs to watch for include:
- Weight gain or loss
- New growths or masses, open wounds, or changing/rapidly growing masses
- Pale, blue, dry, or bright red gums
- Difficulty breathing
- Imbalance or dizziness
- Limping or non-weight-bearing lameness
- Foul odor from mouth, ears, or skin
- Bloated abdomen
- Crying loudly as a sign of pain
- Very hot body (which could indicate a fever)
- Lack of response when called or offered food
- Poor appetite or refusal to eat
- Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours
- Excessive thirst
- Inappropriate urination or defecation
- Nasal or eye discharge
If you notice any of these or any concerning changes, no matter how minor, it is always a good idea to call your veterinarian’s office right away. They could be signs of an emergency or a serious problem that needs to be addressed quickly.
Holistic Veterinary Medicine for Adult Dogs
Although holistic veterinary medicine has been around for many years, it has become increasingly popular over the past two decades, with more and more vets embracing the practice. There are a couple of reasons for this.
One of the reasons for its popularity is that many dog owners have experience with Alternative Medicine themselves and are looking for less invasive ways to treat their dogs. Although medications can heal, they also come with a number of secondary effects. While some health issues require the use of traditional medication, this is not always true for every health condition. In fact, many milder problems can be treated through less invasive therapies such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy. Even nutritional therapy can work wonders for certain health issues that don’t seem to respond to other forms of treatment.
If your dog is already undergoing traditional treatment for a health problem, holistic medicine can be used as an add-on, either to help relieve secondary effects or symptoms or to strengthen the immune system so that healing occurs faster.
Graduating from the Adult Stage
All the bonding you started during the Puppy Stage continues to reap benefits during this Adult Stage. Enjoy all your time with your adult dog, whether exercising, playing, or curling up on the couch for your favorite game or movie. As your dog moves from Adult Stage into Senior Stage, Harmony Animal Hospital is here with you at every step to do everything we can to keep your dog healthy and treat them when they are not.